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Mineral resources in life cycle impact assessment: defining the path forward
European Association of Mining Industries, Metal Ores and Industrial Minerals, Avenue de Broqueville/Broquevillelaan 12, 1150 Brussels.
Align Consulting, 1134 Cross Creek Ct., Sheridan, WY.
RHI AG, Magnesitstrasse 30, 8614 Breitenau.
Newmont Mining, 6363 South Fiddler’s Green Circle Suite 800, Greenwich Village, CO 80111.
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2016 (English)In: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, ISSN 0948-3349, E-ISSN 1614-7502, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 85-105Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Despite 20 years of research, there remains no robust, globally agreed upon method—or even problem statement—for assessing mineral resource inputs in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). As a result, inclusion of commonly used methods such as abiotic depletion potential (ADP) in life cycle assessment (LCA)-related evaluation schemes could lead to incorrect decisions being made in many applications. In this paper, we explore in detail how to improve the way that life cycle thinking is applied to the acquisition of mineral resources and their metal counterparts. Methods: This paper evaluates the current body of work in LCIA with regard to “depletion potential” of mineral resources. Viewpoints from which models are developed are described and analyzed. The assumptions, data sources, and calculations that underlie currently used methods are examined. A generic metal-containing product is analyzed to demonstrate the vulnerability of results to the denominator utilized in calculating ADP. The adherence to the concept of the area of protection (AOP) is evaluated for current models. The use of ore grades, prices, and economic availability in LCIA is reviewed. Results and discussion: Results demonstrate that any work on resource depletion in a life cycle context needs to have a very clear objective or LCIA will not accurately characterize mineral resource use from any perspective and decision-making will continue to suffer. New, harmonized terminology is proposed so that LCA practitioners can build better mutual understanding with the mineral industry and recommendations regarding more promising tools for use in life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) are given. Conclusions: The economic issue of resource availability should be evaluated in parallel with traditional LCA, not within. LCIA developers should look to economists, the market, and society in general, for broader assessments that consider shorter-time horizons than the traditional LCIA methods. To do so, the concept of the AOP in LCA needs to be redefined for LCSA to ensure that models estimate what is intended. Finally, recommendations regarding mineral resource assessment are provided to ensure that future research has a sound basis and practitioners can incorporate the appropriate tools in their work

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 21, no 1, p. 85-105
National Category
Geology
Research subject
Ore Geology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-327560DOI: 10.1007/s11367-015-0991-7Local ID: 7f0c3f23-f8ef-4f75-ade4-1eb4bace7ab9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-327560DiVA, id: diva2:1131105
Note

Validerad; 2016; Nivå 2; 20151116 (pawe)

Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2017-08-11

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